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Drummer Boy

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Re: What does it mean to be "American"?
« Reply #180 on: October 14, 2019, 01:17 »
What makes me think it's a story about an African American family is the line "My Poppa said "son, don't let the man get you do what he done to me"". I was told that "the man" among the African American community refers to the "White" man exploiting their labour.
While that is true, the term is also used by whites when referring generally to any oppressive employer, or any large corporation with mostly anonymous and faceless heads of business who get rich off the work of others.

Although when used by whites, it's often somewhat lighthearted, or meant to be taken as an exaggeration, but with the understanding of some underlying truths. I hope that makes sense.


Quote
Then also you have an occurence of the phrase "Cajun Queen" in the Rolling Stone's "Brown Sugar", which is all about slavery in the US (lyrics). It really makes me think that "Cajun Queen" doesn't refer to a Cajun woman but to an African American woman.

That's an interesting one for a couple of reasons.
Depending on your source, the lyrics are either "Cajun Queen," or "Tent show Queen." Actually, in the link you provided, it's "Tent show." So that would mean she was a performer of some sort, and perhaps very popular, hence the "Queen."

After several listenings of the song (just now) I have hard time hearing the word "Cajun." But even if we were to accept the lyrics as "Cajun Queen" it still wouldn't refer to an African American woman. It would mean that the song was about a black (or "brown") woman who's mother was Cajun and who's father was of African descent. So a mixed marriage that produced an "exotic" daughter—someone with African American roots, but not strictly of African descent. I hope that makes sense as well.
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  • Armchair Cyclist

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    Re: What does it mean to be "American"?
    « Reply #181 on: October 14, 2019, 08:18 »
    Quote
    "Proud Mary's" singer, a low-wage earner, leaves what he considers a "good job," which he might define as steady work, even though for long hours under a dictatorial boss. He decides to follow his impulse and imagination and hitches a ride on a riverboat queen, bidding farewell to the city. Only when the boat pulls out does he see the "good side of the city"—which, for him, is one in the distance, far removed from his life. Down by the river and on the boat, the singer finds protection from "the man" and salvation from his working-class pains in the nurturing spirit and generosity of simple people who "are happy to give" even "if you have no money." The river in Fogerty and traditionally in literature and song is a place holding biblical and epical implications. ... Indeed, the river in "Proud Mary" offers not only escape but also rebirth to the singer.
    John Fogerty: An American Son by Thomas Kitts (via Wikipedia)


    Hank Bordowitz, in (Bad Moon Rising: The Unofficial History of CCR, quotes Fogerty, apparently making the analogy of his army career as the "good job in the city" and going full time into music as the boat ride:
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    "The Army and Creedence overlapped, so I was 'that hippie with a record on the radio.' I'd been trying to get out of the Army, and on the steps of my apartment house sat a diploma-sized letter from the government. It sat there for a couple of days, right next to my door. One day, I saw the envelope and bent down to look at it, noticing it said 'John Fogerty.' I went into the house, opened the thing up, and saw that it was my honorable discharge from the Army. I was finally out! This was 1968 and people were still dying. I was so happy, I ran out into my little patch of lawn and turned cartwheels. Then I went into my house, picked up my guitar and started strumming. 'Left a good job in the city' and then several good lines came out of me immediately. I had the chord changes, the minor chord where it says, 'Big wheel keep on turnin'/Proud Mary keep on burnin'' (or 'boinin',' using my funky pronunciation I got from Howling' Wolf). By the time I hit 'Rolling, rolling, rolling on the river,' I knew I had written my best song. It vibrated inside me. When we rehearsed it, I felt like Cole Porter."


    Fogerty, quoted in Rolling Stone magazine and in response to the use of the song's title and (adjusted) lyrics for a film, suggests that there is no particular subtle message in the song:
    Quote
    I wrote the song about a mythical riverboat, cruising on a mythical river, in a mythical time. Perhaps, the setting was ‘back in time’ on the Mississippi River. It was obviously a metaphor about leaving painful, stressful things behind for a more tranquil and meaningful life, far from a story about killing people for money.


    So there is no suggestion that Fogerty intended it as from a black man's perspective, although in a spoken intro to his 1969 cover, Solomon Burke imbued it with that:
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    I know a lot of you folks would like to know what the old Proud Mary is all about
    Well, I'd like to tell you about her
    She's nothing but a big old boat
    You see, my forefathers used to ride the bottoms of her as stokers, cooks, and waiters
    And I made a vow that when I grew up, I'd take a ride on the old Proud Mary
    And if you'd let me, I'd like to sing about it
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  • « Last Edit: October 14, 2019, 09:36 by Armchair Cyclist »

    Echoes

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    Re: What does it mean to be "American"?
    « Reply #182 on: October 26, 2019, 11:47 »
    TX was much tougher at the time.

    Eheh much what I thought. I saw a few years ago a TV show about Louisiana on France TV. They interviewed a professor in French literature, Robert Desmarais Sullivan who claimed that authors such as Tennessee Williams or William Faulkner came to Louisiana because the Catholic society in Louisiana was much more tolerant than the Baptist in neighbouring Mississippi (the streetcar in Williams' "A Streetcar Named Desire" is the New Orleans' streetcar) : "They saw people dancing, singing, drinking while not being low-class mean and cruel people. They were fascinated and liberated. They could go out with girls being forced to create a marriage". :D

    Although when used by whites, it's often somewhat lighthearted, or meant to be taken as an exaggeration, but with the understanding of some underlying truths. I hope that makes sense.

    Then it is much possible that you and Armchair are right. It would be the story of a white man going out with a Cajun girl but then it means that Fogerty was mixing culture (as you suggested above). In the song you have the line "And I can still hear my old hound dog barkin'chasin' down a hoodoo there". Hoodoo is definitely an African belief, pretty un-Cajun. I think I read him saying he took that idea from Muddy Waters.

    That's an interesting one for a couple of reasons.
    Depending on your source, the lyrics are either "Cajun Queen," or "Tent show Queen." Actually, in the link you provided, it's "Tent show." So that would mean she was a performer of some sort, and perhaps very popular, hence the "Queen."

    Wow shame on me for not checking my links. :D When I googled it up, the lyrics that Google automatically provided said "Cajun Queen" and then I opened a link without checking, not realising that there could've been a mistake. :lol Thanks for correcting!

    But really there are numerous song referring to a Cajun Queen. In Jimmy Dean's "Cajun Queen" song, you can have the feeling it's about voodoo and not really Cajun culture. Then you have George Strait's "Adalida", Emmylou Harris' "Amarillo" or The Bellamy Brothers' "Catahoula".



    I also checked up the definition in the Urban Dictionary:
    A cajun queen is a male impersonating a female, especially during "mardi gras". They are proud, statuesque works of art. They carry their respect for the female in an exaggerated form of outlandish dress, make-up, hairstyle, and the seductive qualities of a woman who hones her sexuality either in high society or on the street.
    https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=cajun%20queen

    "Mardi Gras" being the last day before Lent, usually with a carnival but in Louisiana, I guess the Carnival lasts for several weeks. It's also the name of CCR's last album.



    So there is no suggestion that Fogerty intended it as from a black man's perspective

    Thank you. It's convincing. I've always loved CCR and loved to know the meaning behind Fogerty's songs, so that's very informative!

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    M Gee

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    Re: What does it mean to be "American"?
    « Reply #183 on: October 26, 2019, 12:48 »
    . . . Fogerty was mixing culture (as you suggested above). In the song you have the line "And I can still hear my old hound dog barkin'chasin' down a hoodoo there". Hoodoo is definitely an African belief, pretty un-Cajun. I think I read him saying he took that idea from Muddy Waters.

     . . .

    "Cajun" may have originated from "Acadian", but it is and was very much a mixed culture thing, with African and native American roots as well. That mixture was well-established before the American Civil War. From the early days, the French were much more willing to mix with other local peoples.

    However, I do think Fogerty was likely indulging in poetic license, doing things to make a good song, not because they were autobiographical or historically accurate.


     . . .

    I also checked up the definition in the Urban Dictionary:
    A cajun queen is a male impersonating a female, especially during "mardi gras". They are proud, statuesque works of art. They carry their respect for the female in an exaggerated form of outlandish dress, make-up, hairstyle, and the seductive qualities of a woman who hones her sexuality either in high society or on the street.
    https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=cajun%20queen
     . . .

     :lol :lol :lol :lol
    Omg. Tears rolling down my face from laughing. That, is a bit of hyperbole. A "queen" is US slang for a gay male who cross-dresses and appears as a female. A "queen" is pretty much as described. Although some queens would probably think the description was a little exaggerated, even just to describe a queen (no cajun). They would probably take issue with this bit: "an exaggerated form of outlandish dress", as many queens, while in public, would pass casual examination and be thought to be female. And I'd bet a tenner that little description was written by a gay person!

    Since Mardi Gras (like Carnival) is associated with sexuality and sex, I would have no problem imagining some queens marching in Mardi Gras parades. So, the author conflated the two, and voila! "Cajun queen."
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